What’s your current position at your brewery, and how did you get started in the craft brewing industry?
I am the pub brewer for Foothills Brewing (4th St. brewpub location in Winston-Salem, N.C.). I run the brewpub facility. It all started when I graduated college back in the mid-90s. I was a high school social studies teacher before I was a brewer. The summer after I graduated college, while waiting to start teaching, I got a job at a retail/wholesale beer distributor. This opened me up to craft beer. One day, shortly after I started there, I was in a coffee house near where I went to college on Long Island, and was wearing a sweatshirt from a brewpub located across the street. When I turned to leave, the guy behind me was wearing the same one. We started chatting, and it turned out he was one of the owners and head brewer. He invited me to spend a day with him and I got hooked! I gave up my dream teaching job to follow another dream. The rest is history.
What’s new at Foothills?
Lots! We just opened our production facility across town a few months ago, so there’s a lot going on there, especially with our new and improved brands that we acquired when we acquired the equipment. At the pub, we expanded our draft offerings from 10 to 15, so we have a lot to offer our guests. We are also going to be doing some seasonals and one-offs out of the pub: sort of R+D. Very excited about that.
What’s the best part of being a part of the craft brewing community?
There’s really too much to list, though the camaraderie amongst everyone has to be on top. It really is a great industry to be in, especially now, with so much growth and excitement, particularly in North Carolina.
What do you like to do in your time away from the brewery?
This is a trick question, as I am in a transition stage. I currently work in Winston-Salem, but still live in the Charlotte area. So, most of my time now is gearing our house to sell it so we can move to Winston-Salem. Other than that, spending time with my wife and four boys, as well as visiting other breweries and talking with other brewers, and trying their beers (duh!).
What’s your favorite food and beer pairing?
Wow! So many. Anything that will either really complement each other, whether the food and beer have similar flavors, or the complete opposite, where they are contrasting and give a whole range of flavors to fight through.
What’s your biggest accomplishment unrelated to your job?
My family. I absolutely love watching my kids grow and learn. It is so unbelievably gratifying.
What’s your favorite beer that your brewery does not produce?
I really don’t have favorite brands, but favorite styles. I like maltier beers (browns, porters, stouts, milds, etc.), but also like wheat beers a lot (hefeweizens, dunkelweizens). I go through phases of being a “hop head,” though I work in a brewery that loves hops, so I’m going through a somewhat permanent phase right now.
What’s the most memorable travel destination at which you’ve had a chance to sample the local beer?
In 2004, I had the great experience to go to the Great American Beer Festival on vacation with my wife (our one-year anniversary: she’s a keeper!). We had a blast. We tried to hit as many breweries as we could during our visit (did a pretty good job, too). I also like Asheville, N.C. a lot. So many great breweries and beer joints. Overall a great beer scene! Being so close, I try to get there as much as possible.